(Or “Why doesn’t God hear my whining?”)

Dear Whining, Begging Searcher,

You Ever wish that you could skip ahead in the book of your life and see who you’re going to marry so that you can more easily weed through the dross and skip the heartaches?

You are not alone.

When I was in my early 20s, laying on my bed late at night, alone, prospects for finding someone pretty grim (thinking about moving out of country to get a fresh start), I made the following prayer to God: God let me at least meet the person I’m supposed to marry. A sincere, if nonsensical (especially in retrospect), prayer borne of desperation. Not one of my brighter moments. One, it was so vague a prayer as to be little more than gibberish (thank you Jesus for interceding for us). Two, it failed to take into account God’s sense of humor: I had actually met the woman I was going to marry in junior high school. And hated her.

In everything we do we are to glorify God (I Cor. 10:31), including how we go about dating. We are to practice the presence of God, finding Him in the little things, including dating. In the same way, we can learn about and encounter God in whole new ways as we go about the dating process. If nothing else, my prayer for a mate experience taught me to be more specific in my prayers to God, or at least pray in such a way that I would recognize His answer.

Speaking of those late, lonely nights of singleness, those are often the times most likely to lead to frustration. With your situation and with God. “Why did you make me this way, to burn with passion, and not provide any relief?” We find ourselves getting angry with Him. It’s been so long. You are so lonely. Does He even love you? He’s a big God. You can, and He wants you to (Ps. 51:6), be honest with Him. And, if you cross that line, He offers forgiveness (I Jn. 1:9).

God has His reasons for not answering, or answering in ways you don’t appreciate. Your job is to keep the faith during the silence. Remember that He is good. Remember what the Bible teaches us about His character. Remember that He has a plan for your life (Rom. 8:28 is a “cliche” for a reason). Remember the times that He was faithful in the past. He is consistently faithful, even in the midst of suffering. He can help you through it. Remember the prayer of Mark 9:24: “‘I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.’”

Remember, there is a higher purpose for your singleness. Your life is bigger than focusing only on the next phase of your life, if indeed you are called to that life. You are more than your marital state. Life is more than marriage, as is the work you are called to be doing, and the person you are called to be. So here are some suggestions for prayers:

-Support each other in prayer. You and your other single friends bearing one another up.
-Be grateful for where you are and what you have.
-Don’t take relationships (any relationship: God, friends, or family) for granted.
-Patience. To be still.
-Holiness.
-Contentment (okay, since we’re talking about the lonely, especially single feeling occasions, begging Him to reveal the slightest glimpse of hope).

I’m not going to say don’t pray for your future spouse. Some people think that it is your duty to send helpful hints to God. Pray for their moral character or temptations that they may be facing. Okay, I guess. I tend to think that as you date, you would be better off praying that you don’t choose or settle for someone of weak moral character. Pray for discernment to recognize what He wants.

Prayer is good … just remember that God is more than just some cosmic genie.

Sincerely,

Married Guy Who Thanks God He Doesn’t Have to Date Anymore

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